The Minneapolis Park Board plans to vote on repealing its nudity ordinance this week because the law contains “discriminatory language that targets female breasts.”
Park Board Commissioner Chris Meyer said repealing the ordinance will be voted on during a Wednesday meeting. According to Meyer, it’s already legal for “people of all genders” to be topless in Minneapolis, but women and transgender people can still be cited for going topless in parks and on parkways because of the Park Board ordinance.
The ordinance in question states that no person 10 years of age or older “shall intentionally expose his or her own genitals, pubic area, buttocks or female breast below the top of the areola, with less than a fully opaque covering in or upon any park or parkway.”
The Park Board plans to vote on repealing the entire ordinance, but city and state law will still prohibit indecent exposure, Meyer noted.
“I firmly believe the law should treat people equally regardless of gender. In spaces where men are allowed to go shirtless, women and transgender people should be able to as well. Inversely, in spaces where it would be inappropriate for women to expose their chests, it should be inappropriate for men as well,” Meyer said in a Facebook post over the weekend.
“People should not be discriminated against just because heterosexual men have oversexualized them. Any argument that can be made against the exposure of a woman’s chest should apply just as strongly against the exposure of a man’s chest,” he added.
No state law or citywide ordinance explicitly forbids the public exposure of breasts, meaning the only place in Minneapolis where it is illegal to do so is in parks and on parkways. Minneapolis resident Helena Howard has been highlighting this fact by biking topless throughout the city and avoiding parks and parkways.
“I just want people to know that it’s legal and also make people think about why it’s weird to them or why they think it’s not acceptable,” Howard told KARE 11 in a recent interview. “I don’t think it’s all that different from a man being topless. I also want to fight the sexualization of breasts and female bodies. I think it would be a safer place if female bodies could just exist without being objectified.”
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Anthony Gockowski is managing editor of The Minnesota Sun and The Ohio Star. Follow Anthony on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board Headquarters” by Innotata. CC BY-SA 3.0.